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An Artist Decides Not to Waste Used Tea Bags and Turns Them Into Watercolor Paintings

Ruby Silvious is an artist who is breaking the limits of traditional painting. While other artists paint on a canvas, she uses recycled tea bags to create watercolor landscapes, portraits, and still-life paintings. Just like all other genius ideas, this idea came to the artist by chance, and over a short period of time, she has become a recognized artist, whose style can’t be confused with anyone else’s.

The Bright Side team couldn’t help but marvel at the skill and patience that Ruby demonstrates in her work. We’d love for you to admire some of her masterpieces together with us.

The idea came to the artist all of a sudden.

Ruby studied Architecture and Fine Arts in the Philippines before she migrated to the U.S., and after she had her 2 boys, she studied Marketing Management and took courses in Graphic Design. Painting on tea bags came years later, but she thinks her artistic background plays an integral part in her creative vision.

In her interview with Bright Side, the artist shared that the idea of painting tea bags came to her by chance. While having a cup of tea, she and her sister discovered that a used tea bag can be a good canvas. The concept sounded ridiculous at first, but Ruby was delighted by the aged effect that sepia stains left on the used tea bags. She immediately knew that she would use them in her creations.

The artist takes her inspiration from literally everything.

The artist says she’s always been creative, even at an early age. But it wasn’t until recently that she had the time and opportunity to express her ideas.

She imagines the plot of her next painting in a moment, and inspiration can come from what’s on the kitchen table and in her shoe closet, to images found when she’s browsing online. When she travels, the artist usually draws upon nature, intriguing landscapes, and fascinating cultural experiences to shape new art.

Some of her family members — her boys and her sisters — have tried painting on tea bags, but the artist jokes that it’s not exactly their cup of tea. However, she has held numerous workshops locally, teaching artists and non-artists how to paint and create collages on used tea bags. This year, she has 2 workshops scheduled in Germany and Japan.

Tea bags are not the only objects the artist uses for painting.

As her New Year’s resolution in 2015, the artist started a daily art practice called 363 Days of Tea, and she creates a new work of art every day for 363 days, using tea as her subject. But in her experience with recycled art she has tried far more materials other than tea bags.

After her 2014 recycle exhibit, she’s since expanded her collection, using unconventional everyday materials like cracked eggshells, pistachio shells, color paint chips, candy, and sandwich wrappers made into paper brassieres. She also paints on leaves, rocks, and envelopes. Muslin and cotton tea bags have also joined her diversified canvas, with stitching added to their texture.

There are some challenges which the artist has successfully overcome.

Since her canvas is so small, sometimes it can be frustrating to create detailed work. Also, the artist discovered that some tea bags are more porous than others, making it harder for the watercolor to stay in place. Some teas, like chamomile, are not easy to empty because the leaves tend to stick to the tea bags.

The entire process of creation is quite challenging too. After drinking tea, the tea bag is dried on a paper towel. Once dry, it is emptied of the tea leaves and ironed (yes, ironed!) before being used as a canvas for art.

However, Ruby doesn’t just have time to make her tea bag art, but she writes books about upcycled art and teaches people how to create masterpieces out of used objects.

Which piece of Ruby’s art impressed you the most? Share the screenshot in the comments.

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